OceanBridge expands with London office

Founded by ex-Permira partners Philippe Robert and Martin Clarke and ex-Blackstone partner Michael Dugan, the non-traditional firm has also hired two partners.

OceanBridge Partners has opened a London office and appointed two additional partners, according to a statement. 

Bob MacKenzie, a former operating partner at TPG and Charterhouse, and Nick Hewitt, a former global leader of PwC’s strategy consulting practice and a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Transaction Services, have joined OceanBridge's London office. 

The expansion comes as the firm, which offers direct investments outside a traditional private equity fund structure, sees increased demands from investors for this strategy. 

OceanBridge was established in late 2011 by Michael Dugan, a former partner at The Blackstone Group, Martin Clarke, a former Permira partner, and Philippe Robert, another ex-Permira partner. 

The founders believe the conventional private equity model may have limited appeal for certain types of investors. “Typically these investors are reluctant to commit significant capital to a fund in which they have little or no influence on key decisions, where capital is tied up for 10 years or more; where investment decisions are affected by fundraising timing; and where management fees absorb a significant part of the overall return,” the firm said in the statement. 

When you have a fund, whatever size it is, you are committed to invest 25 percent of the fund every year, putting a huge amount of pressure on the team

Philippe Robert

“A lot of funds were raised between 2003 and 2005, then a lot again between 2007 and 2008 and now again. Everybody tries to [invest and] sell at the same time; not because it’s the right time but because of fundraising [cycles]. We would like to break this correlation,” Robert told Private Equity International

The fact that OceanBridge is not tied to a certain fund structure, creates opportunities, according to Robert. “We have the flexibility to look at small deals, large deals, without having to worry too much about whether it matches the fund rationale,” he said. 

“When you have a fund, whatever size it is, you are committed to invest 25 percent of the fund every year, putting a huge amount of pressure on the team. With us that is not the case. We can focus on the interests of the investors. We are creating an approach which is guaranteeing strategic alignment of investor’s interest for each investment,” he said. 

OceanBridge, which also puts its own equity in each deal, doesn’t have a typical deal size or sector focus. The firm’s carried interest is also earned on a deal-by-deal basis and the percentage can depend on the transaction, Robert said. Typical investors the firm works with are pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and family offices, he said.  

In November 2012, OceanBridge advised the Mayhoola Group for the acquisition of luxury fashion brand Valentino from Permira. Last June, OceanBridge bought a 30 percent stake in Henry Company, a manufacturer of roofing materials in US and Canada.